JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – North Florida held Charleston Southern to 29 percent shooting, including 25 percent in the second half, to offset the Bucs' strong defensive showing and grind out a 68-61 win Saturday at the UNF Arena.
CSU (4-6) forced 27 turnovers and tallied 18 steals en route to taking 25 more shots than UNF (5-7), but sputtered offensively all night. The Ospreys started the second half on a 15-3 run to erase a two-point halftime deficit and held off the Bucs' rallies from there.
Freshman Dontrell Shuler paced CSU with a career-high 20 points, while Deontaye Buskey and Christian Keeling added ten apiece. Noah Horchler recorded his sixth double-double of the season with 22 points and ten rebounds to lead UNF. J.T. Escobar and Wajid Aminu chipped in 14 and 13 markers, respectively.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh liked his team's effort, but knows the offensive production must improve.
"Our guys really, really worked and did a great job on the defensive end to force 27 turnovers and get us 25 more shots," Radebaugh said. "It's just really tough to win when we shoot 29 percent. We've gotta step up and make some shots."
"That was probably our best defensive effort of the year to play at that fast a pace and limit them to 68 points," Radebaugh continued. "We've gotta really look at the offensive end, and we'll get in the gym tomorrow and try to figure it out."
How It Happened
- CSU took a 26-24 halftime lead but saw it quickly evaporate after intermission. Escobar, Garrett Sams and Horchler drained three-pointers to highlight a 15-3 run that put UNF in front, 39-29, with 14:59 left.
- The Bucs scrapped back within three on a Shuler driving bucket at the 12:15 mark, only to see the Ospreys reopen a ten-point cushion minutes later.
- Ryan Burkhardt's trey staked UNF to its largest advantage, 51-38, with 7:23 remaining. The Ospreys' lead still stood at 11 with 4:27 left before the Bucs kept fighting to come as close as four on Keeling's jumper at the 1:07 mark. UNF made eight free throws over the final 59 seconds, though, to hold on.
- Effort and tenacious defense helped CSU overcome an ice cold start to take momentum late in the first half. The Bucs reeled off a 13-3 run over a 4:49 stretch to surge ahead 26-20 with 3:14 left. Six points from Buskey, a Shuler three-point play and Sean Price's steal and fast break lay-in highlighted that stretch.
Inside the Numbers
- CSU has forced 20 or more turnovers in five of its ten games. The Bucs harried UNF into 25 at the Buc Dome two weeks ago, and entered play ranked second nationally in turnovers forced.
- Keeling matched a career high with four steals for the second time in four games. Price and Duncan LeXander swiped three steals each.
CSU travels to the Upstate to take on Clemson this Tuesday. Tipoff at Littlejohn Coliseum is scheduled for 7 p.m.